Home

It’s so obious to me that I’ve finally found a place that feels like home. Plenty of times over the years I’ve felt like I was home, but never AT home. People felt like home, never places. I was never itching to get back from a trip or that I’d miss a place when gone.

And I haven’t–I haven’t missed any of the places I’ve ever been except Sydney. Whenever I’ve left on a trip, no matter how brief, I’ve been anxious to get back here and so happy to be HOME. The memories of all the places I’ve been around the States (where I grew up in New York, lived in San Francisco and Portland, and all the other cities I’ve visited), other countries I’ve been to since leaving (Thailand and New Zealand), and even other cities in Australia (Brisbane and Perth)…it’s enough. More than enough. Just remembering I’ve been there is plenty to keep me happy.

But Sydney…I love it here. I’m starting to miss it already, just knowing I’m leaving in less than a month. It certainly doesn’t help in the slightest that there are people here I’m going to miss so much. I’ve been lucky to have seriously some of the happiest moments of my life to date here in Australia. The kind where it’s impossible not to smile when thinking about them.

Nothing can take the memories away from me, and I really hope to make even more during the next 28 days, but after that? I hate that opportunities are being taken away from me. I had so many things I was looking forward to, things I never, ever knew I could look forward to in the States. And now I’m back to hoping someday I can get the fuck out of that godforsaken country again and get back to looking forward to things.

It’s horribly frustrating to absolutely and so intensely hate something about yourself that you can’t change. I’m American. And I truly wish I wasn’t. I wish I was anything else in the world but American. It would all be so much easier.

Everything else I’ve disliked about myself in the past, I could change. And I did. And now I’m faced with something that just IS and ALWAYS WILL BE. You can’t change where you were born. Fortunately for most people, they actually LIKE where they were born and are quite happy to stay there. Unfortunately for me, I don’t, and I don’t have a way to be anywhere else right now.

I’m trying to come up with a plan, though. If I can get my debts under control, I want to be out of the States again before Christmas. Heh, I’m not even back yet, and I’m already trying to come up with a plan to leave! I’m thinking I might try to give Europe a go. I can’t work there, but if I can make freelancing work, then I might be able to make enough money to live there on that. If I can’t manage that, then maybe southeast Asia. Thailand or Malaysia or something. I don’t think I’d be terribly happy there, but at least I’d be closer to Australia.

Closer to home.

Immigration

The past month has really taken a toll on me mentally. I had been in the process of applying for work sponsorship through the job I’ve had here in Australia since last October, and the end result was that I didn’t qualify. The waiting alone had taken a real toll on me–I don’t do very well with not knowing things. Positive or negative, I can deal with whatever the facts are once they’re made clear, but wondering never sits well with me.

By all accounts, it was entirely unexpected that I wouldn’t get the job and sponsorship. However, new Immigration regulations came into effect last month that effectively make it impossible for me to get sponsored by any job here in Australia.

Thus, my only option now to ever obtain Permanent Residency is through marriage. That’s not a route I’m interested in taking.

I understand the motivation behind the Immigration policies in place: Australia’s primary concern and duty is to give its citizens everything they can and maintain the resources to allow support of its residents to continue. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this intention, and I completely respect it.

That doesn’t mean I can’t resent it, and I most definitely do. I absolutely love this country, its people, its policies. And I want to contribute to it like any citizen does–work, live, and pay taxes. I honestly don’t care about a lot of the benefits citizens get: unemployment payments, healthcare, and student loan access are all things I would happily sign off on if it could get me the right to stay here and work. Unfortunately, Immigration is a bureaucratic process and not a personal one, so my motives mean absolutely nothing.

Upon finding out my time here was now limited, my first reaction was to have a total breakdown. I cried for days. And through the tears, I combed Immigration pages–for Australia, to see if there was any other option for me to stay, and when that came up fruitless, for any other country so I wouldn’t have to go back to the States.

Even over a year out-of-office, the destruction of Bush’s Presidency continues to make waves. Thanks to his tightening of Immigration policies in the States, I cannot even get a Working Holiday Visa to Canada. Canada! America shares the longest undisputed border in the world with them, and I can’t get even a restricted working visa to go there.

My only option right now is to go back to the States. I don’t like having this decision forced on me, and I don’t like feeling hopeless to getting back to Australia. At this point, the best I can hope for is to get my old job back at some point so I can visit often. And then hope against hope that some miracle of Immigration happens and a Melody Can Come Back to Australia Visa is created.

For the first time in my life I’m regretting choices I made: why did I get such useless degrees as Fine Arts and Art History? why didn’t I try to make a career in a useful field instead of doing jobs that I simply enjoyed and paid the bills at the time? why did I have to cultivate enough pride and self-reliance that getting married would feel like a cop-out and settling?

Of course, the regret is transient and insubstantial. I love my degrees and the experiences I had obtaining them, I love the jobs I’ve had and the experiences I had there, and I love that I have the sense to actually criticize conventions instead of blindly bowing to them.

I just wish there was a way for me to stay here. Arguably, I have the skills to do freelance graphic and Web design. Arguably, I could make money on that and try to just get by on visitor’s visas. Practically, I don’t think either is a real solution. I’m far to active and social a person to spend my life sitting at my computer to earn money, and I’m sure at some point they’d stop issuing visitor’s visas to me if I’m here long enough. Immigration is already concerned I’ve been working on my current visa (I most definitely haven’t), and the more time I spend here on such a visa, the more critical they’ll get.

I keep trying to look at this positively. I know from past experience that everything happens for a reason, even if I can’t see it now. Everyone I’ve told back in the States emphatically goes on about how happy they are to be getting me back. Even people here have gone on about how lucky I am that I can just up and go to the States, and why would I be so upset about it? It’s all a bit superficial to me at the moment, though, when every fiber of me loathes the country I was born in and doesn’t want to leave the country I’ve spent the past 18 months of my life in.

Australia’s breaking up with me, and breaking up is hard to do.